The Kitchen Scissors: A Kosior Mystery Series #204 | August 17, 2022

The sun was shining, the kids were happy, and it had taken me the good part of the afternoon to roll off my lawn chair in search of a snack.

“Grab me a glass of lemonade while you’re in there, will you?”  Kyle had said, his eyes closed beneath the book that lay open over his face.

In the kitchen, I made a big show about washing off an apple before shoving a handful of stale Cheetos in my mouth.  I opened the fridge and pulled out the pitcher of pink lemonade which, unsurprisingly, was down to the last tablespoonful.  Fortunately for Kyle (and all of the neighborhood’s little lemonade lovers who had left half-full glasses all over the counter), we had a secret powdered drink stash in case the need for a flash lemonade stand arose.  I dug it out of the back of the pantry, and went to retrieve the kitchen scissors to cut the plastic wrap off the container.

When we were wed, Kyle and I had been gifted a conch shell-shaped pewter salad bowl, a combination rice cooker-vegetable steamer, and a knife block filled with a variety of knives and a pair of kitchen scissors.  After sixteen years, most of the knives had been replaced (see Why is the Bread Knife in the Garage?: A Kosior Mystery Series #118), but the kitchen scissors lived on, shearing everything from shipping box tape to broken fishing line to any other manner of items that really didn’t belong in the kitchen and please take them out in the garage and stop right there, you don’t need the bread knife.

That is, of course, until that fateful Sunday.

I leaned out the patio door.

“Hey, where are the kitchen scissors?”  I called to Kyle.

“In the knife block?”  He replied, helpfully, as one would to a person who had never before been in her own kitchen.

I didn’t bother to look back at the knife block, where the spot for the kitchen scissors was void and dark.

“Nope,” I said.

Kyle took the book off his face.  “On the counter?”

“No.”

“In the fridge?”  (see Time to Put Away the Groceries and Oh Hey The Remote’s in the Vegetable Drawer: A Kosior Mystery Series #8, #71, and #119)

I checked the fridge.  Nothing.

“They’ll turn up,” Kyle said, as our youngest, Seven, came screeching into the yard with a bloody knee.

The next morning, I went to cut the itchy tag off of Seven’s t-shirt and found the kitchen scissors had not magically reappeared overnight.

“Where are the kitchen scissors?”  I asked his brother, Eleven, as he powered through his second bowl of cereal.

“I don’t know; Seven probably took them,” he said confidently.

“I did not!”  Seven shouted indignantly.  “You took them!”

“I did not!”  Eleven shouted back.

“He always BLAMES ME for EVERYTHING!”  Seven stomped on the floor.

“YOU ALWAYS DO EVERYTHING!”  Eleven waved his arm about his head as if to point to 100% of the objects and situations in the house and beyond.

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM HE’S BLAMING ME FOR EVERYTHING,” Seven burst into tears.

Twenty minutes later, after the required apologies and third bowls of cereal, I returned to the question regarding the kitchen scissors.

“Someone probably stole them,” Seven said, his mouth full of his brother’s Cheerios, which tasted better than his own.

“Why would someone steal them?”  I asked.

Seven thought for a moment.  “Because they needed them,” he said.

His point was irrefutable: The kitchen scissors were missing and no one in the house had allegedly moved them; the only possible scenario was that someone had broken in for the sole purpose of stealing the scissors and nothing else.  I was ready to order a standing bulletin board and mugshot printer so as to start my investigation of possible scissors thieves when Kyle appeared from his office and said,

“Maybe the scissors are in the basement.”

For all intents and purposes, the basement of the house had been turned over to our children and their friends.  Once a week, Kyle and I would ruin our sons’ lives by making them put away their toys and take down their makeshift knee hockey rink.  Then, after they were in bed, Kyle and I would go down and actually straighten up to my our liking.  It was in this second-tier clean-up that we often recovered items previously considered lost (or stolen – see The Case of the Missing Crapped-Up Flip-Flops: A Kosior Mystery Series #199) forever.  Maybe the kitchen scissors were in the basement.

Two days later, despite dozens of children and adults tromping up and down the basement stairs, no one had pointedly looked for the scissors.  Also, Kyle had temporarily replaced the kitchen scissors with his office scissors…so, you know, problem solved or whatever.

Finally, in an effort to reclaim his scissors and move on to more pressing matters (see The Adventures of the Wiffle Balls Which Should Be In The Backyard But Are Not: A Kosior Mystery Series #205), Kyle put our best man on the case: Seven.

“Hey, buddy, if you find the kitchen scissors we’ll get ice cream tonight,” Kyle said.

Seven immediately retreated to the basement and returned moments later, kitchen scissors in hand.

“I knew right where they were!”  He said proudly.  “Yep, right where I left them.”

It was an inside job, but the culprit was cute so we let it slide…this time.  For now, the kitchen scissors (and the bread knife) are back where they belong.

The photo above is of the scene of the crime.

This week’s news has a book written by a group of third graders, towns full of pollinator gardens and chalk art, and a Renaissance Faire.  Read on.


Led by their teacher, Tammy Gapinski, a group of Jamestown third-graders have published a book entitled, “Goodnight Jamestown” featuring local landmarks. (News Dakota)

Jim and Dale Nelson are displaying their family’s 100+ collection of clocks at the Dickinson Museum Center through the end of the month. (KFYR TV)

Minot now has five pollinator gardens – one in a roundabout – thanks to The Minot Pollinator Project. (KFYR TV)

The Red River Valley Motorcyclists recently donated over $40,000 to organizations for veterans and fallen law enforcement officers. (Grand Forks Herald)

For the past seven years, the streets and sidewalks of Dickinson have come alive with chalk. (Dickinson Press)

North Dakota is now home to our very own Renaissance Faire, and if you’re going to go you may want to consider a costume – check out the photos in the article. (Fargo Forum)

The Bismarck Larks’ first-ever “Kid of the Year” is a 12-year-old named Eva Brooke, who handed out “blessing bags” to homeless people in the community. (KFYR TV)

The all-volunteer Mandan Rural Fire Department is turning 60. (KFYR TV)


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Last is Best | July 27, 2022

Kyle and I took the boys out to dinner at a popular family restaurant in Grand Forks.  The small waiting area was packed with mostly grandmas and grandpas; and so when I realized one of the two benches had an open tush spot, I pointed it out to a woman who looked roughly the same age as the dawn of time.

“Oh, no,” she said, leaning hard onto her cane.  “That’s for someone who needs it.”

We stood there for another twenty minutes before our table was ready.  Despite a lot of glances towards the benches by several members of the crowd, one seat always remained empty.  At one point, both of the benches cleared off as parties were brought to their tables, and so a few of our fellow waiting room patrons did the “Well, I guess…” thing and sat down – always leaving one spot open.

North Dakotans have a real aversion to taking the last of something.  This goes back to our statehood: North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted at the same time, North Dakota being the 39th and South Dakota the 40th – probably because the government was like, “Hey, we have a spot opening in the United States; you in?”  And North Dakota was like, “Well, we should leave that for a territory that really needs it.”  And then the gov said, “Well, we have a second spot opening up right after this first one.”  And so North Dakota did the, “Well, I guess…”

I work for an architecture firm; and if you know anything about architects, it’s that they put white paint on everything love them some doughnuts.  Architects design buildings and construction managers build them, and if you know anything about construction managers, it’s that don’t care what color paint is used so long as its available they also love doughnuts.  Architects and construction managers find middle ground on things like paint colors through the consumption of doughnuts – and since the person-to-doughnut ratio at construction meetings is usually in the range of a 10-to-1, we end up with a lot of extra doughnuts in my office’s kitchenette.

A couple of weeks ago I went down to the kitchenette and found a box of eight doughnuts: seven flavors that I didn’t want, and one that I did.  Chocolate glaze.  As this was the last chocolate glaze doughnut, I did what any North Dakotan (and especially any woman over 35, as required by Women-Over-35 law) would have done in this situation, which was get a knife out of the drawer and cut it in half.  My half was delicious.

It was so delicious, in fact, that I was still thinking about that chocolate glaze doughnut after my morning meetings.  I decided to pop into the kitchenette for a completely unrelated matter and, lo and behold, the chocolate glaze doughnut half was still there.  Except that it was no longer a half; it was a chocolate glazed doughnut quarter because someone had cut the half in half.  Also, the seven grosser other doughnuts had reduced to two (a sprinkles and a German chocolate).  I cut the quarter in half, and it was delicious.

My office hosted a social hour in the kitchenette at the end of the day.  There were all sorts of awesome appetizers, as well as the box of what remained of the doughnuts.  I bet you can guess what was left: one whole German chocolate and one-eighth of the chocolate glaze.  As I tried to will myself to take the last of that chocolate glaze, one of my coworkers said, “Well, I guess…” and cut the German chocolate in half.

Here’s a math problem: an office is supplied a box of seven doughnuts.  How many doughnuts will remain twenty-four hours later?  If you guessed one-half of a German chocolate and one-eighth of a chocolate glaze, you are right.

Kyle and I have a box of tissues in our bathroom.  There is currently one left.  There has been one left for approximately two weeks; it’s a nose-blowing miracle.  Here’s another math problem: If two parents are playing “Whomever takes the last tissue has to replace the box,” who will win?  The answer is, of course, that one of our children will take the tissue, probably not use it, and the box will sit empty until Kyle or I realize it and change it out.

Children, of course, are smarter than grown-ups.  Kids not only can’t be bothered to uphold the politeness of “lasts,” they actively work to get the best.  We served a hockey-themed sheet cake at my eleven-year-old’s birthday party.  In the seconds it took me to light the candles, the boys completely worked out the food split.  

“First!  I call puck!”  One kid yelled, pointing at a spot with a fist-sized mountain of frosting.

“No, that’s Eleven’s!”  Another kid hollered, pointing at my son who smirked in the way that only a birthday boy who doesn’t need to call his own cake can.  “He gets that part!  I call second and I call this corner!”

“Fine!” the first kid yelled.  “Then I call the net!”

The boys divvied out the cake – without it yet being cut, mind you – so accurately that there was only one piece left at the end.  The kid who called “Eighth” wolfed down his cake before the others.

“Ahbawlbwlasht!”  He shouted, which was mouth-full speak for “I call last.”

“How was it?”  I asked him as I served him the last slice.

He cut off a huge hunk, leaving only about one-eighth on his plate.  “Delicious,” he said.

I didn’t have any pictures of half-eaten doughnuts or people not sitting in seats, so the photo above is of me and Kyle.

This week’s news has five football players, four teachers, and one neighborhood.  Read on.


Five NDSU football players – Logan Kopp, Ryan Jones, Chris Harris, Brayden Weber, and Alex Oechsner – rescued a passed-out woman and her two small children (one of whom was trapped) from a burning car after an accident. (Fargo Forum)

WalletHub has ranked North Dakota School as being the 8th-best in the country. (KX Net)

A neighborhood in Bismarck is now on the National Register of Historic Places. (Bismarck Tribune)

The third annual Dickinson Lemonade Day – for kids to learn about owning a business – saw double the participation of its inaugural year in 2019. (Dickinson Press)

Congratulations to Abby DuBord of Bismarck, Megan Wald of Kintyre, Megan Margerum of Hunter, and Ivona Todorovic of Grand Forks – the finalists for North Dakota Teacher of the Year! (Bismarck Tribune)

Thank you to the North Dakota Professional Communicators for honoring North Dakota Nice the First Place award in Personal Blogging, and to the National Federation of Press Women for the Third Place award in Writing – Humorous. (NDPC, NFPW)


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Potlucking | July 13, 2022

A lovely reader named Barbara (thanks, Barbara!) messaged me last week inquiring as to my go-to potluck dish, and I’m very glad she did because there are few social gatherings I love more than a potluck.  Actually, I can’t think of anything I like more than a potluck so let’s put that at #1.  The perfect potluck would be outside on a warm and sunny (and mosquito/wasp-free) summer day, with a stack of picnic tables set out under a grove of trees (and all of the benches would have backs and the seats would be padded – you know what, let’s just say a bunch of groupings of first-class airplane seats).  Also, there would be Igloo coolers full of that McDonalds orange drink that they used to serve at soccer games and the whole thing would end with a scheduled nap.

To answer the question, my go-to potluck dish is a fruit salad.  This is not my favorite potluck food, but you never have to take home fruit salad at the end of a potluck because everyone has eaten it.  Potlucks are a low-key competition to see who can bring the best stuff.  You know you won if someone comes over to what was once your dish of mint chocolate chip cookie bars and says, “Are those gone already?  Dang, they were good.”  You accept your award by replying, “Oh, I just tossed those together.  They are so easy.”

When we were visiting Michigan, one of the neighbors mentioned that she was going to a potluck hosted by a dentist, and I said that she should bring a big bowl of miniature toothpaste tubes and say that four of her other dentist friends recommended it.  Not only did that joke not really land, I was sorry for even mentioning it because there’s nothing funny about being the person at the end packing up a big bowl of uneaten tuna Jello salad (or toothpaste salad) that’s been sitting out on a countertop for three hours.

I don’t think it’s any big secret that North Dakotans play fast and loose with the definition of salad; while the Oxford Dictionary defines “salad” as “A cold dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients,” Midwesterners define it as “Anything in a bowl.”  Or, if you don’t want to use a bowl, “Anything.”

I once potlucked with another woman who also brought a fruit salad, except that mine had strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, mandarin oranges, and grapes, and hers had watermelon balls and a spoon.  And you know what?  Her salad was eaten first.  That sucked.

My favorite potluck dish is Italian pasta salad.  It has my two favorite food groups: carbohydrates and dressing.  I don’t potluck pasta salad, though, because I can’t make a pasta salad to save my life.  It doesn’t make any sense.  I know how to cook spiral noodles.  I know how to cut up vegetables and open a can of kidney beans.  I know how to pour Italian dressing.  Yet, somehow the way I do it combines into something completely bland and disappointing.

I was complaining to one of my friends about my inability to make pasta salad and she said, “I have my great-great-great-grandmother’s pasta salad recipe; it was the only thing she saved from her village before fleeing on a weather-beaten log to North Dakota.  She landed on the shores of the Red River penniless with only that recipe and her wits about her, and made her fortune selling pasta salad on the streets.  I’ll give you that recipe; there’s no way it can fail.”

I tell you what, I followed that pasta salad to the river-stained letter.  Then I took that pasta salad to a potluck where, lo and behold, my friend was also there with her own bowl of pasta salad – which, of course, tasted far superior to mine.

“Oh, I didn’t realize you were making the salad for this potluck,” she said.  If there are any True Crime podcasts out there looking for a topic you should tell that frickin’ pasta salad story because both of our abilities’ to trust were murdered that night.

Here are some of my other favorite potluck foods:

  • Oreo cookie salad
  • Those little ham sandwiches made with butter
  • Sweet and sour meatballs
  • Anything in bar form
  • Anything in dip form
  • Anything

Of course, not everyone can serve up potluck salads.  First of all, someone needs to bring like fifty bags of potato chips or else the potluck is declared invalid.  Second, unless you plan on scooping everything into your rolled-up t-shirt like a trough, at least three people need to bring plates, silverware, and napkins.  All of those could be accomplished by one person, of course, but that would defeat the purpose of the ‘luck.

You know you’ve really won potlucking when people ask you to bring a dish you are specifically known for making.  One of my friends makes a spinach dip that is so good that I’m thinking about inviting her for a one-person potluck.  I’ll bring the fruit salad.

I don’t have any photos of myself at a potluck because I’m clearly stuffing my face, so instead the photo above is of clouds because if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently became very deep.

This week’s news has a mom looking for a helpful passenger, as well as balloons and power-full women.  Read on.


A mom of three is looking to track down a Fargo “girl named Ashlyn (Ashlan?)” who helped her family through a long flight. (Facebook)

Grand Forks’ Misti Kauffman has been selected to join a team of international balloon professionals to build a 300,000-balloon wonderland for the non-profit resort designed for children with critical illnesses, “Gives Kids the World Village.” (Grand Forks Herald)

Mantador’s Gary Puetz, along with his brothers Douglas Puetz and Bill Puetz, received Quilts of Valor for their service to our country. (Wahpeton Daily News)

After Dickinson’s food pantry put out a call on Facebook asking for donations due to understocked shelves, the community responded with 1,000 pounds of food within a day. (Dickinson Press)

The Power of 100 Women’s Dickinson chapter is donating $20,000 – a $400,000 milestone made possible by 250 members over six years – to the Domestic Violence Rape Crisis Center and the Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center. (Dickinson Press)

Last year the Fargo YMCA served 115,000 free lunch meals to kids over the summer months, and are expected to serve the same number again. (Fargo Forum)

The definition of the sweetest kid: Valley City’s Wade Sornsen is selling lemonade to help his mom pay for his stitches. (Valley City Times-Record)

Dickinson’s Ellisyn Ahmann is the top Girl Scout cookie salesperson in both North Dakota AND South Dakota. (Dickinson Press)

North Dakota’s Michelle Duppong is a candidate to becoming America’s 12th saint. (Grand Forks Herald)


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